Ex-army officer to run polls

Dumisani Muleya

GOVERNMENT has appointed retired Lieutenant Colonel Kennedy Zimondi as the new chief elections officer on the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC).



ana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Official sources said Zimondi was appointed in April to replace Brigadier Douglas Nyikayaramba who was brought in to run the hotly disputed 2002 presidential poll.


ESC spokesman Thomas Bvuma confirmed Zimondi’s appointment but said the electoral body’s commissioners appointed him. However, sources said government instructed the ESC to appoint Zimondi.


Although Zanu PF recently indicated it would want to adopt electoral law reforms, Zimondi could still be involved, together with others on the current election bodies, in running next year’s general election.


Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa earlier this month told a Zanu PF politburo meeting that he proposed the transfer of current electoral officers, in particular those in the Registrar-General’s office, to the envisaged Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.


This could result in the new agencies staffed with the same people, including Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede who has been widely accused of bias.


The ESC, based on the fifth floor of Hardwicke House where intelligence agents also operate from, was laden with army officers before the 2002 election. Reports have indicated that the army played a decisive role in determining the outcome of the controversial election.


The ESC is chaired by Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, a former military intelligence officer.


Despite the proposed electoral changes, voter registration for next year’s general election is still being conducted by the current compromised institutions.


As a result, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has complained that the exercise is “seriously flawed and may well impede the rights of the people to vote”.


MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube last month wrote a letter to Gula-Ndebele citing irregularities in the mobile voter registration exercise. The ESC supervises voter registration and elections.


Ncube said people were being “deliberately and systematically disenfranchised and as a result denied the right to participate in the governance of their country”.


“Of great concern is the lack of publicity and the confusion surrounding the mobile voter registration programme,” Ncube said. “A lot of potential voters are not being given adequate opportunity to register for lack of knowledge and information.”


The ESC replied to Ncube’s letter, admitting there had been “a number of administrative and logistical problems” in the exercise. It then asked the Registrar-General’s office to extend the exercise to July 30. However, it is understood this has not been done notwithstanding the ESC’s advice and admission that potential voters could be disenfranchised.